Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Applying a Balance Lesson from a Motorcycle Riding to Active Aging

GettyImages-993622692 (1)Training yourself to do something that feels unnatural is never easy, but it’s also never too late to learn an important skill. Balance is a focal point with our Active Aging population and something our residents are concerned with on a daily basis. Whether it be through designing exercise prescriptions to improve an individual’s balance, leading an educational presentation on aspects of balance, or leading a balance group fitness class, there are countless ways that we as professionals can attempt to help improve someone’s balance.

We recognize the importance of balance because the longer someone can maintain this skill, the longer they are able to remain independent. However, with all of this time, energy, and work dedicated to balance, I notice the same issue coming up consistently: residents are constantly looking down at their feet while they move.

The Lesson: Eyes Up!

When I moved to Virginia six years ago, I was finally in a place to fulfill a lifetime goal of mine: to own a motorcycle. I had no experience riding, I didn’t grow up around bikes, but I just was always fascinated by them and determined to learn to ride one. I am a cautious person, so before I did anything else, I participated in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation® Basic Rider course at a nearby community college. I learned many things during that course, but one lesson that has always stuck with me is instead of focusing on the road directly in front of your wheel, you should be looking down the road and keeping your eyes up. When you keep your eyes up and your focus ahead of you, you give yourself a valuable tool: time.

This is a lesson I work hard to get my residents to understand. When we walk, looking down at our feet gives us a sense of security that we know exactly where our foot is going to be and what our foot is going to land on, but it comes at a price. When our gaze is down at our feet, we can’t see what’s coming. We give ourselves very little time to identify a trip hazard in our path or to plan a route to avoid uneven or unstable surfaces. Much like riding a motorcycle, when you keep your eyes lifted, you give yourself more time to determine your best route because your brain has more time to process what you are seeing and plan accordingly.

Prepare for Balance Challenges

When we know that there are consequences to our actions, we often are very careful with those actions because we know what might result if we are careless. This awareness and concern has had the unfortunate effect of teaching us that we should fear falling and avoid it at all costs, so we look down at our feet. But just like riding a motorcycle, keeping your eyes up and looking well out in front of you may help you avoid obstacles, prepare for any balance challenges, and be safe through fall prevention.

Interested in learning more about NIFS effective balance programming?  NIFS premier fall prevention programming can help set your community apart from the rest. 

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Topics: active aging balance fall prevention balance training for seniors

Bring Positivity and Focus to Your Workouts

GettyImages-866068744Having been an athlete my entire life, I learned at a very young age that the mindset you bring to a workout is just as important as the workout itself. It doesn’t matter if you have a great workout plan or a great trainer/coach, if you go into a training session with the wrong mindset you will be set up for failure.

Get a Positive Mindset

I always take multiple steps to bring a positive mindset to my training sessions. Whether it’s loading up an inspiring playlist (a must for a great workout), reading a motivational story, or simply taking the time to appreciate the positives in my life, I use these tools to set myself up for an incredible workout. Find what gets you into a good mood, lock it in, and carry that with you each day to the gym. This small preparation makes a world of difference.

Focus!

Now that you are in the gym and feeling the good vibes, you are all set for a good session. The only thing left to do now is focus on the task at hand and maximize your training session. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson yelled it best: FOCUS! And boy, does it help (be sure to YouTube his “focus” gym videos. Thank me later).

It is easy to set yourself on autopilot as you go through a workout or group fitness class, but I highly recommend that you don’t! Feel each and every rep and set. Feel what your intensity is doing to your body. Notice the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) signals that your body sends you during a workout. Use this information to make better-informed decisions on how, when, and where you train.

Here is my personal checklist of focal points for each and every workout. Think about these things during your next training session and you will be sure to get an awesome workout you can be proud of.

  • Difficulty: Find yourself comfortably uncomfortable. Pushing your body outside of your comfort zone promotes better fitness levels. Be sure to keep your intensity high enough to get a good workout, but not so high that you fizzle out at the end. I like to keep my workouts at a 7–8 out of 10 for the majority of my workout to be sure I am maximizing my time in the gym.
  • Breathing: This one is very important. On each rep I make it a point to focus on my breathing: exhaling on my concentric phase (shortening of the muscle) and inhaling on each eccentric phase (muscle lengthens). Controlling your breathing will lead to much more clarity during exercise and help you maintain a healthy heart rate and intensity. It also helps with form.
  • Music, not my phone!: Be sure to set your playlist before hitting the gym. We spend enough time on our phones as it is. Set it and forget it so you can focus on the tunes and not your notifications.
  • Form: To maximize your workout and prevent injury, form must always be a main focal point. I always like to look at an exercise as having a “Point A” and a “Point B.” Focus on getting from A to B as efficiently as possible, while being strong and stable from points A and B.
  • Goals: Focus on what your goals are. Between sets while you are resting and jamming out, remember why you are in the gym in the first place. Appreciate the steps you are taking to reach your goals and continue to chip away at accomplishing them.

Be positive, stay focused, and be your best self!

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Topics: workouts positive thinking workout music mindset focus